The Week Grip: Because You Can’t Write a Weekly Golf Column If You Skip the First Week

Welcome to the first installment of the Week Grip! Click here for the others, and follow along throughout 2019.

“It is so much easier not to do things than to do them… the fact that you would do anything at all is totally remarkable. Percentage-wise, it is 100% easier not to do things.”

That’s comedian John Mulaney, laying out one of the fundamental truths of the human condition. In context, it’s a clever way to thank his audience for attending one of his shows, but it applies in everyday life as well. Specifically, to the idea of a passion project.

Allow me to briefly ascend a small soapbox, fit only for one of those department store free samples. Unlike my wife, who has known she wanted to be a teacher since she was barely old enough to go to school herself, I’ve really never had a clear idea of what I wanted my life’s work to be. And I still don’t. For the past few years I’ve worked as a copywriter for a travel company, creating and updating the itineraries and informational documents we send to guests. It’s interesting enough, and occasionally scratches the writing itch that began to afflict me during a feature writing class in college.

But it’s not something that fills me with pride, nor does it buoy my spirits and leave me feeling like I’ve truly accomplished something worthwhile. I’m certain that says more about me than it does about the job, since most everyone would agree that writing about far-flung destinations is infinitely more interesting than writing about the topic that actually incites those heart-fluttering emotions: golf.

My dad lining up a putt on the 9th green at South Shore CC in Hingham on a rare 55-degree December day

If you know me at all, or if you’ve stumbled upon this through some tributary or offshoot of the mighty river of #GolfTwitter, you’ll understand the pull that this game can exert on someone. It’s the only thing I’ve found in my 29 years that consistently (and insistently) worms its way into my brain, and provides broad avenues for my five favorite things: playing a game that’s difficult to master, enjoying time with friends and family, watching sports, reading (and writing) about sports, and gambling.

From March to October, I spend most mornings cross-referencing the weekend weather forecast with my social schedule, desperate to squeeze in 18 holes somewhere. From October through the first real snow, I invert my golfing brain and pray for high numbers — low 40s will do in a pinch, but those high 40s to low 50s winter days are the sweet spot. By the ninth hole of a winter round, with the thin December sun having wavered its way to apex, you might not even need the third layer. And some of the most valuable golf time actually comes during the dark, hellish winter months, when there’s ample time for reading (and practicing your takeaway in the mirror), the PGA Tour’s early season events provide glimpses of heavenly green playing carpets, and the weekly snow shoveling exercises those oft-neglected lower back muscles.

So golf, clearly, is a year-round pursuit. But as I’m sure you know, I’m far from the only person for whom this is the case.

When discussing golf writing, only a select few scribes are fortunate (or cursed) enough to be able to focus on dissecting their own games. In the past few years, a slew of extremely talented, dedicated, and intelligent writers have begun to cover the game from all (width and) angles: architecture, ball and club technology, competitions… and that’s just the first three letters of the alphabet. These voices, and dozens of others, have carved out niches covering this vast and varied game in all forms — blog posts, videos, podcasts, magazines…the list goes on. And frankly, it looks like a hell of a lot of fun.

So, before I daintily return my FootJoys to level ground, I’ll just come out and say it — I’m going to write a weekly golf column in 2019 called The Week Grip. Rather than just think about it, or consider it, or hope that I might have time to do it, I’m going to actually do it. This will be the place to visit if you’re interested in following along, and I’ll mark all of them with the #WeekGrip tag if you want to get into the archives. Ironically, my grip is pretty strong, but I’ve noticed most players who are better than me play with that trademark left-thumb-center, right-thumb-wrapped around weaker grip. Plus, getting a grip on the week… the name kinda worked out.

I wanted to name it Week Sauce, but NLU has cornered the “sauce” market. Speaking of which, I love this clip.

Anyway, I don’t pretend to be an expert in the professional game (as evidenced by my fantasy golf record), nor do I possess the deep wells of architectural or historical knowledge upon which some more experienced golf writers can draw. What I do have are a very particular set of skills…

No, wait. That’s Liam Neeson. The only things I have are a somewhat worryingly strong passion for the game of golf, an often one-sided love affair with the written word, and an internet connection. I’ll probably bang out a blog post every Sunday night, but that’s far from a guarantee that I’ll recap that week’s professional tournament. Think of it more as a “What perked my golfing ears this week” sort of column, where it’s just as likely I’ll focus on my deep disdain for Brooks Koepka’s disinterest in the sport as it is that I’ll dive into the discovery of a new course that I’d made that week.

Also, these will vary in length, and this post will probably be on the longer side. It’s 2019, people have short attention spans, and there are plenty of shinier pieces of content competing for your attention.

I’ll finish with two quick points from the past week or so, as a preview of what’s to come.

First, as evidenced by the photo above, my dad and I got out for 18 holes not once, but twice in the past 10 days. In December! Both days hovered around 50 degrees, and both times we hoofed it around South Shore CC, a semi-private Stiles and Van Kleek track with abundant elevation changes and some seriously sporty holes. My dad is abjectly terrible, having just picked up golf (in the way that a toddler picks up their playroom) in the past few years.

But he loves the game. Decent shots are few and far between, but are met with much satisfaction, and during a rough patch it’s somewhat reassuring to watch him struggle with the same sports-induced frustration issues that he passed down to me. Our first round, we fought through a hissing squall on the 9th, and finished the round soaked and freezing, huffing and puffing up the final incline to the 18th green. The second one was a breeze. After both, despite the temporary greens, abundant mud balls, and vicious wind, we gave each other a heartfelt “That was awesome, let’s do it again.” And that’s all you can ask for.

Also, Christmas = golf stuff. Here’s a selection.

Thanks for reading, thanks in advance for checking in from time to time, and here’s hoping for some 50-degree days over the next few months.

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Bought a hat once. Did not receive a free bowl of soup with it.

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Robbie Vogel

Bought a hat once. Did not receive a free bowl of soup with it.